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Cablegate: Ambassador Meets Defense Minister - Soren Gade In

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DE RUEHCP #0369/01 2401051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281051Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5139
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCP/USDAO COPENHAGEN DA PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP-ISA-EUR// PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COPENHAGEN 000369

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/NB, EUR/RPM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR DA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS DEFENSE MINISTER - SOREN GADE IN
AN EXPANSIVE MOOD

REF: KAO - BELL EMAIL 8/27/2009

1. (SBU) Summary: On August 26, Ambassador paid an
introductory call on Minister of Defense Soeren Gade. The
Minister was in a talkative mood, and conducted a very
cordial meeting in which no contentious issues were raised.
He did, however, drop a few surprise hints concerning the
possibility of relocating the Danish military's Greenland
Command to Thule, about creating some sort of NATO Arctic
Forum, and about the prospect for Denmark to eventually drop
its ESDP opt-out with the EU (but not any time soon). End
Summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador, accompanied by the Defense Attache, met
with Minister Gade for nearly an hour. The Minister was
accompanied by his number two, Permanent Secretary of State
for Defense Lars Findsen, as well as Deputy Permanent
Secretary of State for Defense (Strategy and Policy) Kristian
Fischer. Minister Gade frequently consulted a one-page list
of talking points, but as frequently digressed into
tangential points and anecdotes.

3. (SBU) The Minister began by expressing his overall
satisfaction with U.S.-Danish defense relations. He
indicated he had been an admirer of President Reagan;
applauded the initiative of Secretary Rumsfeld in
transforming NATO structures; and is deeply appreciative of
his close relationship with Secretary Gates. Minister Gade
expressed satisfaction for the positive way in which any
U.S.-Danish military issues are speedily resolved, as well as
for the rapid progress being made bilaterally on developing
technical countermeasures against Improvised Explosive
Devices (IEDs).

4. (SBU) Minister Gade was especially pleased to have been
able to obtain Danish agreement on the need to upgrade the
radar facilities at Thule. He acknowledged that maintaining
Thule was expensive for the U.S., but believes that Thule
will only become more important as time passes and the Arctic
shipping lanes open up. He then made a surprising mention
that, eventually, Denmark might wish to relocate all or part
of Greenland Command to either Thule, or Nuuk, or perhaps
both. He also said that, as the Arctic becomes more
important, it might be useful for NATO to create a framework
for dealing with Arctic issues, perhaps similar to the
NATO-Ukraine Forum.

5. (SBU) The Ambassador picked up the reference to NATO to
ask about the Strategic Concept development. The Minister
asked Kristian Fischer to respond. Fischer briefed that a
meeting of the ""Eminent Persons Group,"" which he said
included former Secretaries of State Albright, and perhaps
Powell, was scheduled to take place in Copenhagen on November
5. The work of this group is supposed to lead to a new
Strategic Concept in time for the NATO Lisbon summit in
autumn 2010. (NOTE: We checked with USNATO which was
unaware of any such meeting in Copenhagen (ref). END NOTE.)

6. (SBU) In response to the Ambassador's congratulations on
the near-unanimous party support for new 5-year Danish
Defense Agreement, Minister Gade said that he ""took
advantage"" of the current high level of respect which Danish
soldiers enjoy throughout the country, to get almost all
political parties to agree to the plan. He was especially
pleased to have been able to increase the defense budget, a
first in many years (and virtually unique in Europe this
year).

7. (SBU) The Minister then turned to the subject of the
Baltic states (""our Eastern partners and Allies""). He
claimed to share their view that some sort of more ""visible""
support for their sovereignty was needed. He indicated that
some kind of NATO ""footprint,"" such as ) but not limited to
) Air Policing, was vital to reassure these nations of
Allied support. He made it clear that he was not suggesting
""stupid structural"" additions, such as NATO headquarters or
bases; but exactly what he had in mind was left unmentioned
(as was the Russia-Georgia war). He did claim that the NATO
Secretary-General would soon be launching a discussion of
this topic.

8. (SBU) In response to the Ambassador on the Danish
""opt-out"" for security and defense matters within the EU,
Minister Gade reiterated that the original Danish position
had been based both on a dislike for duplicating NATO
structures, and on an instinctive fear that Eurocrats might
become in a position to order Danish forces to deploy

COPENHAGEN 00000369 002 OF 002


overseas. However, after several years of being ""out,"" the
Minister was coming to a different perspective. Now, it was
possible to see a variety of positive aspects to the EU
missions abroad, includnig to be able to influence the
discussion. It has become clear that Denmark currently has
zero influence within the EU on defense matters; and Danish
forces are losing some valuable opportunities to train with
EU battle groups. Nonetheless, Minister Gade volunteered
that a referendum ) required to change the Danish opt-out )
would not be called anytime soon, as there is no political
constituency for doing so. He also expressed skepticism
about EU defense ambitions, claiming they were much too large
for current economic realities.

9. (SBU) Finally, in discussing the Ambassador's recent trip
to Greenland's capital Nuuk, Minister Gade expressed some
exasperation about what he termed the Greenlanders' ""victim
mentality."" He seemed resigned to the fact that even a
recent report by the Danish Institute for Military Studies
into the 1968 crash of a B-52 (concluding that there never
was a ""lost H-bomb"") had failed to achieve closure on the
subject. In this connection, the Ambassador asked about a
report that the Danish Ministry of Health is preparing to
release about radioactivity in Greenland. While he did not
know the contents of the report, he gloomily predicted that
whatever it might say, it would inevitably feed the ""victim
mentality.""
FULTON

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